Fisheries newsletter. Wessex and Devon & Cornwall

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1 Fisheries newsletter Wessex and Devon & Cornwall April to June 2015 This newsletter is a quarterly update on some of the fisheries work undertaken by the Environment Agency and other partners including the Rivers Trusts, within Wessex and Devon & Cornwall Deputy Director visits Wessex Sarah Chare, Deputy Director of Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology (FBG) in the Environment Agency, took time out from her busy work schedule to attend a joint meeting of the Bridgwater and Blandford FBG teams to listen to their concerns and report on her role within the organisation. The team were able to present reports on some of the work and projects happening in and around Wessex and there were site visits along the River Tarrant. The river suffers during drought, and biodiversity and fishery officers have worked together to improve fish passage as well as restore and improve some two kilometres of river for all manner of species. During the site visits, Sarah and Pam Nolan were joined by a number of riparian owners, who gave Sarah and Pam a warm welcome and reported on the improvements experienced by them. The improvement projects demonstrated good partnership working with riparian owners and local organisations. Sarah said: 'Both Pam and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the FBG community day and the trip around the River Tarrant the next morning. The combination of top notch expertise, partnership working and excellent engagement with the landowner community shows FBG at it best.' For more information on projects on the River Tarrant, please contact Roger Genge (Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology) on or Tel: Sarah Chare discussing projects on the River Tarrant with riparian owners and Environment Agency fisheries staff Helping eels on the Sherford Works to improve eel passage at Organford Mill, Wareham on the River Sherford have been completed with the support of the landowners Joan and Peter Taylor and Casterbridge Fisheries who carried out the works. The old wheel at the mill was removed many years ago leaving a large 'cavern' which was impossible for fish or eels to migrate past in all but the most extreme of weather conditions. Crumbling wood has been replaced with sound material, forming a bristle pass along the repaired section and the use of eel tiles to join up the gap between high and low flows. Fish passage has already been secured past the mill by the owners improving flows to the mill bypass channel and the installation of an orifice in the sluice gate connecting the channel to the mill pond. During the works many eels were recorded at the base of the weir. Hopefully they will no longer be there, now the eel pass is in place. The Taylor's will be keeping an eye on the eel pass from their living room window! For more information on the Sherford eel pass improvements, please contact Roger Genge (Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology) on or Tel: of 5

2 A living room view - the new eel pass at Organford Mill on the River Sherford Trews Weir fish pass The fish passes being built at Trews Weir on the Exe as part of the Exeter flood defence scheme are nearing completion. A fish pass has been installed in the flood relief channel to ensure no fish become stranded after the flood channel has been operational. Frome & Marden eel passage Our Hydrometry and Telemetry team have installed eel passes at two of our flow gauging stations on the Bristol Frome at Frenchay, and the River Marden at Stanley. A fish easement and eel pass was also installed on the weir immediately upstream of the Frenchay site as well, due to repairs being needed on this weir. The improvements were made while major repair work was being undertaken at the sites, as a requirement of the Eel (England and Wales) Regulations The eel passes are the longest we have built in our area, so there are resting pools included in the designs to make the climb easier for the eels. We have also installed cameras to monitor the number of eels using the passes and will report in the future on the success of these passes. The local public at Frenchay were obviously very thrilled at the idea of an eel pass being installed; so much so, someone graffitied a Thanks from the eels on one of our information signs. For more information on eel passage in the Bristol Avon catchment please contact Jody Armitage (Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology) on or Tel: The fish and eel pass on the main Trews weir (top) and the fish pass in the flood relief channel (bottom) Disease update in Devon Fish disease has affected rivers across Devon again in The River Dart appears to have been the most affected, but also the Teign, Axe, Exe, Lyn and Taw. The Tamar, Tavy and other rivers in Cornwall have also been impacted. On the River Dart, most of the early run of salmon and a significant proportion of sea trout are thought to have died. There are some reports suggesting this disease was Ulcerative Dermal Necrosis (UDN), however three suitable live fish samples were obtained on the Tamar and transported to our Fish Health team in Brampton for analysis. They concluded that the disease was not UDN. We now believe that the fungal infections are more prevalent due primarily to climatic conditions. The low water temperatures and low flows experienced this spring are likely to have exacerbated the problem.

3 For more information on the disease outbreaks in Devon rivers, please contact Mike Holland (Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology) on or Tel: Responding to fish kills In Somerset and the Bristol Avon catchment we responded to five fish kills in stillwater fisheries. Thankfully none of the fish kills were as a result of notifiable fish diseases such as Koi Herpesvirus, but factors such as poor fisheries management (such as overstocking), fish disease and environmental conditions (such as low oxygen levels, high water temperatures and algal blooms) that coincided with spawning were identified as the causes of the losses. Ensuring good fisheries management is very important to keep your fish stocks healthy, particularly during dry and warm periods. If you want some advice on how best to manage your fishery, please contact your local fisheries officer. Construction of the eel pass at Stanley gauging station (top) and eel friendly graffiti at Frenchay gauging station (bottom) There is a limited amount that can be done to tackle fish disease in the environment, but we are able to reduce additional pressures that are within our control, such as angling and netting. On the River Lyn, where disease has been most prevalent in recent years, we have placed additional restrictions on the fishery. The permitted angling methods have been limited and there is a compulsory 100 per cent catch and release. On the river Dart an emergency bylaw has been enacted; this includes similar measures to the Lyn, but also required all netting activity to cease. There has been a large amount of liaison with local fishing interests and we are grateful for the assistance and support we have received. We continue to monitor the situation closely. Caught on camera Our FBG team in Blandford made a television appearance after being filmed for fishing programme 'Tight Lines'. The show, hosted by Keith Arthur and aired on Sky Sports, looks at helping the ever growing Avon Roach Project. This second feature for Keith's programme explains how the Avon Roach Project finalises three years of hard work with the release of thousands of three year old true Avon roach from their stew ponds at Bickton, into the middle reaches of the Hampshire Avon. The time of the release in early April is very important as these fish are mature enough to spawn in a few weeks, further rejuvenating the Avon's roach populations. You can find out more information at: or by contacting Jim Allan, (Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology) on or Tel: Devon Net Limitation Orders We are continuing to work with all parties on the Net Limitation Order for the River Dart and Teign, which is due to come into effect in December 2015.

4 We are in discussions with the Nets and the Rods and will be making our recommendation to Defra later this autumn. The River Dart salmon stock status is considered At Risk ; this coupled with the disease issues means it is likely that a reduction in exploitation on the river will be recommended. towards the reduction of levels of sediment and nutrients entering the river. The Bristol Frome is currently failing Water Framework Directive measures for phosphates and this project will form part of a number of wider initiatives on the river which will result in further projects in the coming years. Dart liming project The pilot project looks to trial tackling acidity on the River Dart tributaries, and is linked with historic industrial deposition on Dartmoor. The Dart Liming Project continues to gather baseline monitoring data at the trial site and a control site. A PhD student will be recruited to oversee the project and collect monitoring data. It is likely that the project will begin on site this autumn with lime being added to the river and monitored. Bank holiday licence blitz Following the opening of the coarse fishing season on rivers, streams and drains on the 16 June, we have been busy checking anglers rod licences. On the first weekend of the open season we checked 224 anglers in Somerset, seven of which were caught fishing without a licence. We have also been busy during the bank holidays, making sure that anglers that are fishing without a licence are caught. In May, three of the anglers that were caught fishing without a licence (one of whom also gave false details) have been prosecuted. The cases were heard at Taunton Magistrates Court and between them they were charged Updates from the Rivers Trusts Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) Bristol Frome diffuse pollution project Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) are delighted to have been asked to lead this project on behalf of the Bristol Avon Catchment Group, with funding provided through the Defra Catchment Partnership Action Fund. BART will work in partnership with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) South West and the farmers and landowners along the Ladden Brook and Bradley Brook, which form the headwaters of the Bristol Frome, to monitor and identify issues and take actions to contribute Livestock poaching of riverbanks (top), leading to sediment pollution, and turbidity, dissolved oxygen and phosphate monitoring (bottom) on the Ladden Brook Both BART and FWAG are charities who have developed to help the agricultural community by providing trusted independent, environmental advice. The project is designed to kick start farming involvement in tackling these issues by providing specialist advice to local farmers who are best placed to contribute to solving these problems in this area. The project will find out what farmers think is required to solve these problems and will also help to raise awareness of best practices and share what has been achieved elsewhere. The advice and improvements made on farms within the project area will not just help meet

5 arbitrary targets; they will also deliver real ongoing benefits such as increased biodiversity and productivity, as well as improved health and wellbeing as a result of local community engagement within the project. For more information on BART, please contact, Web: or contact Ian Mock on Tel: Calling all Rivers Trusts If you represent a Rivers Trust in Wessex or Devon & Cornwall and want to contribute to these newsletters then please get in contact Environment Agency contacts For more information on these newsletters, please contact Jody Armitage, Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology, Tel: , or If you want to contact your local Environment Agency, Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology Team directly, please Wessex (Bridgwater) Wessex (Blandford) Devon (Exeter) Cornwall (Bodmin)

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